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Essential Quote from Bohm on Motion, Process, and the Implicate Order



David Bohm, "Wholeness and the Implicate Order", 1980, Ark edition 1983, pp 201-4:

All of this suggests that quite generally (and not merely for the special case of listening to music), there is a basic similarity between the order of our immediate experience of movement and the implicate order as expressed in terms of our thought. We have in this way been brought to the possibility of a coherent mode of understanding the immediate experience of motion in terms of our thought (in effect thus resolving the Zeno's paradox concerning motion).

To see how this comes about, consider how motion is usually thought of, in terms of series of points along a line. Let us suppose that at a certain time t_1, a particle is at a position x_1, while at a later time t_2, it is at another position x_2. We then say that this particle is moving and that its velocity is

v = x_2 - x_1 / t_2 - t_1 .

Of course, this way of thinking does not in any way reflect or convey the immediate sense of motion that we may have at any given moment, for example, with a sequence of musical notes reverberating in consciousness (or in the visual perception of a speeding car). Rather, it is only an abstract symbolization of movement, having a relation to the actuality of motion, similar to that between a musical score and the actual experience of the music itself.

If, as is commonly done, we take the above abstract symbolization as a faithful representation of the actuality of movement we become entangled in a series of confused and basically insoluble problems. These all have to do with the image in which we represent time, as if it were a series of points along a line that are somehow present together, either to our conceptual gaze or perhaps that of God. Our actual experience is, however, that when a given moment, say t_2, is present and actual, an earlier moment, such as t_1 is past. That is to say, it is *gone*, non-existent, never to return. So, if we say that the velocity of a particular *now* (at t_2) is (x_2 - x_1) / (t_2 - t_1) we are trying to relate *what is* (i.e., x_2 and t_2) to *what is not* (i.e., x_1 and t_1). We can of course do this *abstractly and symbolically* (as is, indeed, the common practice in science and mathematics), but the further fact, not comprehended in this abstract symbolism, is that the velocity *now* is active *now* (e.g., it determines how a particle will act from now on, in itself, and in relation to other particles). How are we to understand the *present activity* of a position (x_1) now non-existent and gone for ever?

It is commonly thought that this problem is resolved by the differential calculus. What is done here is to let the time interval, delta t = t_2 - t_1 become vanishingly small, along with delta x = x_2 - x_1. The velocity *now* is defined as the limit of the ratio delta x / delta t as delta t approaches zero. It is then implied that the problem described above no longer arises, because x_2 and x_1 are in effect taken at the same time. They may thus be present together and related in an activity that depends on both.

A little reflection shows, however, that this procedure is still as abstract and symbolic as was the original one in which the time interval was taken as finite. Thus one has no immediate experience of a time interval of zero length, nor can one see in terms of reflective thought what this could mean.

Even as an abstract formalism, this approach is not fully consistent in a logical sense, nor does it have a universal range of applicability. Indeed, it applies only within the area of *continuous* movements and then only as a technical algorithm that happens to be correct for this sort of movement. As we have seen, however, according to the quantum theory, movement is *not* fundamentally continuous. So even as an algorithm its current field of application is limited to theories expressed in terms of classical concepts (i.e., in the explicate order) in which it provides a good approximation for the purpose of calculating the movements of material objects.

When we think of movement in terms of the implicate order, however, these problems do not arise. In this order, movement is comprehended in terms of a series of inter-penetrating and intermingling elements in different degrees of enfoldment *all present together*. The activity of this movement then presents no difficulty, because it is an outcome of this whole enfolded order, and it is determined by relationships of co-present elements, rather than by the relationships of elements that exist to others that no longer exist.

We see, then, that through thinking in terms of the implicate order, we come to a notion of movement that is logically coherent and that properly represents our immediate experience of movement. Thus the sharp break between abstract logical thought and concrete immediate experience, that has pervaded our culture for so long, need no longer be maintained. Rather, the possibility is created for an unbroken flowing movement from immediate experience to logical thought and back, and thus for an ending t this kind of fragmentation.

Moreover we are now able to understand in a new and more consistent way our proposed notion concerning the general nature of reality, that *what is* is movement. Actually, what tends to make it difficult for us to work in terms of this notion is that we usually think of movement in the traditional way as an active relationship of what is to what is not. Our traditional notion concerning the general nature of reality would then amount to saying that *what is* is an active relationship of what is to what is not. To say this is, at the very least, confused. In terms of the implicate order, however, movement is a relationship of certain phases of *what is* to other phases of *what is*, that are in different stages of enfoldment. This notion implies that the essence of reality as a whole is the above relationship among the various phases in different stages of enfoldment (rather than, for example, a relationship between various particles and fields that are all explicate and manifest).

Of course, actual movement involves more than the mere immediate intuitive sense of unbroken flow, which is our mode of directly experiencing the implicate order. The presence of such a sense of flow generally implies further that, in the next moment, the state of affairs will actually change - i.e., it will be different. How are we to understand this fact of experience in terms of the implicate order?

A valuable clue is provided by reflecting on and giving careful attention to what happens when, in our thinking, we say that one set of ideas *implies* an entirely different set. Of course, the word 'imply' has the same root as the word 'implicate' and thus also involves the notion of enfoldment. Indeed, by saying that something is *implicit* we generally mean more than merely to say that this thing is an inference following from something else through the rules of logic. Rather, we usually mean that from many different ideas and notions (of some of which we are explicitly conscious) a new notion emerges that somehow brings all these together in a concrete and undivided whole.

We see, then, that each moment of consciousness has a certain *explicit* content, which is a foreground, and an *implicit* content, which is a corresponding background. We now propose that not only is immediate experience best understood in terms of the implicate order, but that thought also is basically to be comprehended in this order. Here we mean not just the *content* of thought for which we have already begun to use the implicate order. Rather, we also mean that the actual *structure*, *function* and *activity* of thought is in the implicate order. The distinction between implicit and explicit in thought is thus being taken here to be essentially equivalent to the distinction between implicate and explicate in matter in general.

[Peter Mutnick]
Bohm here stands at the door of a clear understanding, but does not quite go through. The essential conclusion to be reached is not the rejection of the formula for motion, v = x_2 - x_1 / t_2 - t_1, but rather the recognition of its true significance in light of the criticism of Bohm so clearly stated above. The only possible conclusion is that observation causes motion in the object observed and all motion is in essence caused by such observation. The (x_1, t_1) is a phenomenal extension and duration which, as a result of observation, becomes unfolded into a noumenal extension and duration (x_2, t_2). The latter obtains its place in the extensive continuum, which is infinitely divisible, although not infinitely divided. The phenomenal extension and duration are in the fifth or phenomenal world and the fourth or etheric world, the noumenal extension and duration are in the second or emotional world and the first or physical world, and the causal formula for motion is in the sixth or causal world. Motion is hence very much in the eye of the beholder, or the observer, in the seventh or meta-physical world.

We also need a theory of how a phenomenal object gets selected from what has already unfolded. That reverse process has to do with the Gestalt, both the so-called physical Gestalt and the phenomenal Gestalt into which it is transformed. The former is the Geometry Of Divinity, where the referent of Divinity is Dasein, while the latter is the Structured Form, grasped by the Observer as the essence of the Geometry Of Divinity. The Structured Form is then analyzed into its spatial and temporal properties and that causes the transformation known as motion, or the holomovement. The reverse process is the enfoldment and the process known as motion is the unfoldment.

Quantum theory, of course, suggests that observation alters the object observed, but Bohr actually discouraged such a way of speaking. However, it would seem from the analysis here that such alteration is not only factual and orderly, rather than "uncontrollable", but necessary to make sense of the formula for motion presumed by all quantum theories that are based on the Lorentz transformation, which includes the classical v = x_2 - x_1 / t_2 - t_1 in the (1 - v^2/c^2)^1/2 term. The causal theory of motion, suggested here, would then be a sub-quantum or post-quantum theory that takes advantage of the freedom from physical determinism granted by the uncertainty principle to postulate a deeper causal role for the observer and the process of observation. This is in accord with both the phenomenology of Descartes and Husserl and the subjective organism theory of James and Whitehead.

This is the fulfillment of the program of David Bohm, who failed to realize that by keeping the formula for motion and explaining it, his argument for an underlying causal theory was rendered triumphant. The enfoldings and unfoldings, as real transformations of the quantum objects caused by the processes of observation, are mandated by the need for a meaningful interpretation of the formula for motion. The reason Bohm missed his major opportunity was probably due to his antipathy for mechanism, which he shared with Bohr. But that is precisely the weak link in the Copenhagen Ansatz, and where it can indeed be deepened through clarification most effectively. A touch of the old positivism in the right place might have been exactly the antidote for the quantum muddle.



Peter Joseph Mutnick 1949 - 2000


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